If you’ve read my weekly workout round-up, you’ll already know the end of this report, but I decided to write this as a bit more of an in-depth analysis of what went on at the Viña del Mar Adidas Halth-Marathon, raced on 1st October! It was a day of racing, which included a marathon, a half-marathon, and a 10km, all setting off within an hour of each other.
It was my first ever international race, with all the other ones I had done being based in England. Although it was mostly very similar to the ones I’d run (I mean, a race is a race is a race, right?), there were a few things which confused me and I had to figure out.
The first of these was the fact that entries were still open 4 days before the race, which is when I signed up. For a race which is said to be one of the best-organized and prettiest in Chile, I was surprised they still had spaces available! I was even more surprised when I paid and my entry came to $25 dollars in total – which included medal, t-shirt and goodie bag. Even my home-town half-marathon in Cambridge cost me more than that, and I didn’t even get a t-shirt!
Secondly, talking about t-shirts, we all got given them as part of the goodie bag, which you picked up with the race number at the expo in the days leading up to the race. It is a great technical t-shirt by Adidas (if a little bit BRIGHT YELLOW), extremely light-weight and breathable. However, what confused me was the amount of people who wore them for the race itself – maybe it’s just me, but that just seems like bad luck! I feel like you should only wear the t-shirt once you’ve earned the t-shirt…
Thirdly, back in England most people run marathons and half-marathons for charity. This means most people run with bibs from charities, or with race numbers dedicated to certain charities. A lot of the time, races are also sponsored by charities or charities send groups of supporters along to encourage their teams around the course. There was NONE of that here in Chile. Most people were either wearing the race t-shirt, or the running shirt of their club. I felt slightly out of place in my Great North Run 2014 t-shirt!
But, anyway, back to the race at hand!
The course was a straight out-and-back route, along a single road which wound around the cliff edge bordering the sea. The marathon set out along the same route as the half-marathon, but carried on for an extra 500m before turning around. This was slightly weird as it meant that the first half had distance markers every km, but the second half had two sets of distance markers, in different colours for the half and the full. The had also set them up wrongly in places, as the RED markers (for the half) sometime came before the GREEN (for the full), so basically falsely telling us how far we had run. The route was also net flat, but with some nasty short rises and false flats which I wasn’t too prepared for – but luckily my hill work seems to be paying off as I had no trouble on the hills (if anything, I felt stronger going up them!)
We set off at 7:45, when the sun had risen and was peeping out over a cloudless sky but before the air had fully heated up. The first half of the route saw us going South, with our backs to the sun, and it was a great temperature to run in. Unfortunately, we then had to turn around and were confronted with a much stronger sun than anticipated, glaring down on us. I had a lot of problems with it, though I think they were mainly psychological – if you remember, about 2 weeks ago I had a really bad 13-mile run here in Santiago, where I overheated and really struggled. I guess I was just scared that that would happen again.
My main problem though was that I was sapped of energy – because I was silly and set off WAAY too fast. The last half-marathon I did, I looked at my splits and saw that I had run the first 3km at 5:46/km, then the middle 15km at like 5:15/km, and the last 3 at 5:45/km. This time, partly because I wanted to avoid that and partly because my legs felt really good, I set off faster. Looking at my splits though, I can see I set off much faster than I thought I had – 4:36/km for the first 5km – which resulted in me crashing and slowing after the first 3 miles. I slowed substantially until 10km, when my average split was 5:15/km, and then my slowing levelled out as I hit my stride and got back into the groove of my slower pace. I walked through 2 of the water stations so I could take on some Gatorade, but apart from that I just kept moving.
It was also a strange structure for the race because the 10km people also joined us halfway through their route. So then, their signage also became our signage, but I was confused because the route took a twist at the end to bring us around in a circle to the start/finish line, and the distance markers seemed totally off. It definitely messed with my head when I saw the 20km banner (meaning only 1000m to go), then 3 or 4 minutes later seeing a 9km mark, when they really should have been in the same place since both races finished at the same point…. So I flagged a lot towards the end, because I really had no clue how far we had to go, and I couldn’t see the finish line as we had to basically do a 2-block square (or 3 sides of it) in order to twist ourselves around. I definitely lost a bit of time at that point.
BUT I FINISHED IN 1 HOUR 53 MINUTES!!!!
Although this is not a PB for me, I was only 1 minute off my previous best time (which I got at my last half-marathon in March). My PB was set in my home town, on a route I knew pretty much every single step of, having training for 8 weeks towards a certain goal, and having stressed but also rested my body in preparation. For a race which I was highly unprepared for, which I set off too fast and crashed and burned, and also a race which I was trying hard not to actually “race” because I am in the middle of training, I was proud of my results!
After I finished, we were handed our medals and just basically left to drift away. The entire race (including the finish line) was right next to the beach, where was a mini-expo set up in tents along the shore, with people giving out water and offering massages and games. I took some time just to sit on the sand and watch the waves as I waited for my brain to process the race.
In the end, I’m glad I signed up for it and also slightly sad not to have beaten my PB. I know I’m a stronger runner than I was in March, and I also know that if I had run the same course in my hometown, I would have come out with a much better time. I am also a bit annoyed that I ran out so fast and basically messed up my mind for the rest of the race. But then, on reflection, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to run such a beautiful race and with a great group of runners. There will be plenty of races in the future for me to beat my best time – hopefully when I’m much more prepared for what is to come!